Extremely short-lived reaction resonances in Cl + HD (v = 1) → DCl + H due to chemical bond softening

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Science  02 Jan 2015:
Vol. 347, Issue 6217, pp. 60-63
DOI: 10.1126/science.1260527

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A few very brief pauses in the action

Chemical reactions proceed by the cumulative effect of trillions upon trillions of collisions between atoms and molecules. Usually, a given collision bounces the participants right back out again, either in their original form or with the atoms shuffled around into distinct products. In certain cases, the reacting partners experience a brief lull, termed a resonance, before they rearrange. Yang et al. report the discovery of particularly short-lived resonances in certain reactive collisions of chlorine atoms with vibrationally excited hydrogen deuteride (HD). Their results suggest that similar, as yet overlooked, resonances may lurk in other reactions of vibrationally excited molecules.

Science, this issue p. 60


The Cl + H2 reaction is an important benchmark system in the study of chemical reaction dynamics that has always appeared to proceed via a direct abstraction mechanism, with no clear signature of reaction resonances. Here we report a high-resolution crossed–molecular beam study on the Cl + HD (v = 1, j = 0) → DCl + H reaction (where v is the vibrational quantum number and j is the rotational quantum number). Very few forward scattered products were observed. However, two distinctive peaks at collision energies of 2.4 and 4.3 kilocalories per mole for the DCl (v′ = 1) product were detected in the backward scattering direction. Detailed quantum dynamics calculations on a highly accurate potential energy surface suggested that these features originate from two very short-lived dynamical resonances trapped in the peculiar H-DCl (v′ = 2) vibrational adiabatic potential wells that result from chemical bond softening. We anticipate that dynamical resonances trapped in such wells exist in many reactions involving vibrationally excited molecules.

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